Author Topic: My five topics for Christian believers  (Read 1522 times)

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #29 on: May 28, 2014, 09:26:58 PM »
So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Sigh.

OldChurchGuy, I like you, I really do. I have respect for your almost endless courtesy and think that you are an intelligent man. And with that in mind, I still have to say the paragraph quoted above is absolute nonsense.

Beliefs do not have an on/off switch - either you believe something or you don't. How do you "try" atheism? If you believe in a god of any sort, by definition you are not an atheist, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how you can "try atheism" like it's a shirt you're thinking of buying. 

I'm not saying that you are lying, but if you think that you can just shrug beliefs on and off - or worse, that WE can - then you still have no clue what we're talking about here. It's not my intention to be hurtful to you, but I'm kind of floored that you said (and presumably believe) this.

Shortest version possible - belief or lack thereof is not a choice.

Your kind words are truly appreciated.

I am not sure I understand about belief not being a choice. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline Azdgari

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #30 on: May 28, 2014, 09:30:47 PM »
OCG:  Could you try disbelieving in the existence of your family for a while?  Would you be able to genuinely believe they didn't exist?
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.

Offline Jag

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #31 on: May 28, 2014, 10:17:05 PM »
Azdgari gives an excellent example above, but I just thought of a way this might work to help you understand what I'm saying.

Sexual orientation is not a choice - gay people do not choose to be gay.

To me, god beliefs are similar. I promise you, many aspects of my life would be easier if I could believe at will. I didn't choose, much less decide, to shed my former god-beliefs - they evaporated over time until there was nothing left of them. Belief is not an act of will, I can no more decide to believe in a god than I can decide to believe that I'm actually a sumo wrestler disguised as a tiny white woman, or that fairies sneak into my bedroom and tangle up my hair at night while I sleep.
"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

Offline Azdgari

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #32 on: May 28, 2014, 11:18:11 PM »
Another way of looking at it:  Once you know something, can you choose to un-know it?
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2014, 04:53:03 AM »
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #34 on: May 29, 2014, 05:19:52 AM »
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".
<snip>
I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Which is not what you were asked, and you know it. You were asked if you could CHANGE your beliefs. Your definition just changes "beliefs" to "feelings". Can you CHOOSE to feel something you don't? Can you CHOOSE to feel hatred for toilet paper? Can you CHOOSE to feel depressed about your theism? Can you CHOOSE to hate your children and possibly grandchildren? Can you CHOOSE to hate alpha radiation? Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

A clear and unexpected (from you) dodge, but I'll bite.
Your theism does not bother me. It is your attitude that might.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Beginning to doubt you're worth more than the average theist,

One
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #35 on: May 29, 2014, 05:54:22 AM »
Quote
Which is not what you were asked, and you know it. You were asked if you could CHANGE your beliefs. Your definition just changes "beliefs" to "feelings". Can you CHOOSE to feel something you don't? Can you CHOOSE to feel hatred for toilet paper? Can you CHOOSE to feel depressed about your theism? Can you CHOOSE to hate your children and possibly grandchildren? Can you CHOOSE to hate alpha radiation? Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?

Yes, I can make those choices.  I interpreted the earlier posts as belief was being equated with fact.  If I misunderstood, please forgive me. 


Quote

Your theism does not bother me. It is your attitude that might.

What is my attitude conveying to you? 

Quote
Beginning to doubt you're worth more than the average theist,

One

I am truly flattered you thought me at one time as worth more than the average theist.  If I have fallen from your favor, so be it.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #36 on: May 29, 2014, 06:01:51 AM »
Yes, I can make those choices.

Bull.shit. Plain and simple. You don't choose what you feel. Ever. You just do. Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender? If so, you're wrong. Period.

I interpreted the earlier posts as belief was being equated with fact.  If I misunderstood, please forgive me. 

Yeah... no.

What is my attitude conveying to you? 

I said "might". I'm talking about theists who don't stop other theists from committing atrocities or protect the ones affected by those atrocities. If you are a part of this type of theists, I would very much like to meet you and show you a few things. Afterward, if you're still with the same mindset, I'd like to put you in an asylum for being a psychopath. It's either that or I'd have to escalate to physical aggression, which I don't like to do.

I am truly flattered you thought me at one time as worth more than the average theist.  If I have fallen from your favor, so be it.

I said I was beginning to doubt my assessment. Whether doubt turns to certainty about having been wrong is up to you.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Watching Contact,

One
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #37 on: May 29, 2014, 06:54:43 AM »
Yes, I can make those choices.

Bull.shit. Plain and simple. You don't choose what you feel. Ever. You just do. Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender? If so, you're wrong. Period.

I interpreted the earlier posts as belief was being equated with fact.  If I misunderstood, please forgive me. 

Yeah... no.

What is my attitude conveying to you? 

I said "might". I'm talking about theists who don't stop other theists from committing atrocities or protect the ones affected by those atrocities. If you are a part of this type of theists, I would very much like to meet you and show you a few things. Afterward, if you're still with the same mindset, I'd like to put you in an asylum for being a psychopath. It's either that or I'd have to escalate to physical aggression, which I don't like to do.

I am truly flattered you thought me at one time as worth more than the average theist.  If I have fallen from your favor, so be it.

I said I was beginning to doubt my assessment. Whether doubt turns to certainty about having been wrong is up to you.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Watching Contact,

One

I am genuinely confused.  What stops me from hating toilet paper?

Are you saying none of us have any choice on anything?

Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #38 on: May 29, 2014, 06:57:42 AM »
I am genuinely confused.
<snip>

Answer these questions instead of dodging:
Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #39 on: May 29, 2014, 07:20:38 AM »
Quote
Can you CHOOSE to feel something you don't?

I honestly don't know how to respond to this question.  Would you please give me an example?

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to feel hatred for toilet paper?

Sure.  Sounds irrational, but I suppose one can hate toilet paper. 

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to feel depressed about your theism?


I believe so.  I can also choose to enjoy my theism. 

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate your children and possibly grandchildren?

I think under certain circumstances I could.  To be honest, I cannot imagine the circumstances but I cannot rule out what I see as an extremely remote possibility.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate alpha radiation?


I suppose so.  I read up on it and can't imagine why I would hate it.  On the other hand, I can't say I fully understand the article, either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_radiation

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?

I suppose so.  "Pleasant" is so subjective.  What you find pleasant I might find irritating moving toward hatred. 

Now that I have answered these questions individually rather than as a collective, I ask again: Are you saying none of us have any choice on anything?

Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #40 on: May 29, 2014, 07:32:01 AM »
I honestly don't know how to respond to this question.  Would you please give me an example?

Ever felt murderous rage? The impulse to hurt other people in order to please yourself? The urge to rape someone/something, living or dead? I hope the answer to all of these is "no". But can you CHOOSE to feel these things?

Sure.  Sounds irrational, but I suppose one can hate toilet paper. 

I wasn't asking about any one person. I was asking you if you could CHOOSE to hate toilet paper.

I believe so.  I can also choose to enjoy my theism. 

Then do so. Go ahead. I can wait.

I think under certain circumstances I could.  To be honest, I cannot imagine the circumstances but I cannot rule out what I see as an extremely remote possibility.

I'm not saying that they have to give you reason to. Just CHOOSE to hate them.

I suppose so.  I read up on it and can't imagine why I would hate it.  On the other hand, I can't say I fully understand the article, either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_radiation

Alpha radiation is basically the nucleus of a helium atom. It can't penetrate anything thicker than a sheet of paper (including said sheet of paper), but it has the greatest ionizing power out of alpha, beta (+ and -), and gamma radiations (which are the only ones, as far as I know). It is fairly harmless, because, as I said, you can protect yourself from it with just about anything, even skin.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?
I suppose so.  "Pleasant" is so subjective.  What you find pleasant I might find irritating moving toward hatred. 

I meant hating things you find pleasant. Things you think are without defects, such as, I presume, your god.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?
Now that I have answered these questions individually rather than as a collective, I ask again: Are you saying none of us have any choice on anything?
[/quote]

No. I didn't even imply it by any post I have made in this thread. I don't understand why you would ask this.

Quote
Can you CHOOSE to hate pleasant things?
Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
[/quote]

About to shower and go to class,

One

I want to note that you didn't actually answer the questions I posted in the post prior to this one. I'll restate them for you (this is the second time I've had to restate them; any more and I'm reporting you for dodging and smiting you):
Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy? Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline junebug72

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #41 on: May 29, 2014, 07:33:42 AM »
So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Sigh.

OldChurchGuy, I like you, I really do. I have respect for your almost endless courtesy and think that you are an intelligent man. And with that in mind, I still have to say the paragraph quoted above is absolute nonsense.

Beliefs do not have an on/off switch - either you believe something or you don't. How do you "try" atheism? If you believe in a god of any sort, by definition you are not an atheist, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how you can "try atheism" like it's a shirt you're thinking of buying. 

I'm not saying that you are lying, but if you think that you can just shrug beliefs on and off - or worse, that WE can - then you still have no clue what we're talking about here. It's not my intention to be hurtful to you, but I'm kind of floored that you said (and presumably believe) this.

Shortest version possible - belief or lack thereof is not a choice.

I'm not trying to be argumentative.  I am really trying to understand how atheism is not a choice.  It seems to me you calculate the evidence and "decide" that there are no gods.   Are perceptions not about the choices we make?

It seems to me you think if you admit it's a choice it somehow dilutes the definition of being atheist.  I don't think that's the case.  I just don't understand the passion behind denying "choice".
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Thomas Paine

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Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #42 on: May 29, 2014, 07:41:14 AM »

So if belief is not a choice, how do you expect theists to become atheists?

You walked right into that conundrum.

In just the same way that a child who once believed in Santa Claus starts putting two and two together and comes to the conclusion - as painful as it might be at the time - that it is all actually their parents. Even though I guess it's possible to apply the word "choice" to a process of weighing the pros and cons of such a question and coming to a conclusion, ultimately the conclusion one DOES reach is just a matter of things clicking into place, and once they do, even if you try to force them back out of your mind, they will always be there.

In Old Church Guy's case, I would guess that such is a little bit of the case. It's why he is unable to categorically state that there is a god the way many other theists might. He's honest with himself. He also finds comfort in the concept of god, though, so he allows for the possibility, then juggles with definitions enough to be able to maintain his belief, even though he has to reject much standard dogma to make it "fit".

Sorry, by the way, OCG...that's just speculation, and may be wrong, but even if your own process may differ, there are still many people out there to whom that sort of definition would apply, and it's really the root of SPAG, though, I personally wouldn't apply that epithet with quite the same attitude to someone who is honest enough with themselves to realize what they are doing as opposed to one who builds up an unshakeable image of exactly what god thinks on this matter based on their own mindsets and then cling to it, insisting it is the truth.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 07:46:43 AM by jynnan tonnix »

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #43 on: May 29, 2014, 07:53:08 AM »
I honestly don't know how to respond to this question.  Would you please give me an example?

Quote
Ever felt murderous rage?

No.

Quote
The impulse to hurt other people in order to please yourself?

No.

Quote
The urge to rape someone/something, living or dead?

No.

[quote I hope the answer to all of these is "no". But can you CHOOSE to feel these things?

I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.  But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?



Quote
Are you telling me that psychopaths can CHOOSE to feel empathy?

I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

Quote
Or that heterosexuals can CHOOSE to feel sexual attraction to other people of the same gender?

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

P.S.  Thank you Junebug for helping clarify this discussion.  I feel like I am treading water so would appreciate insights from anyone else on this exchange. 
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #44 on: May 29, 2014, 07:54:45 AM »

So if belief is not a choice, how do you expect theists to become atheists?

You walked right into that conundrum.

In just the same way that a child who once believed in Santa Claus starts putting two and two together and comes to the conclusion - as painful as it might be at the time - that it is all actually their parents. Even though I guess it's possible to apply the word "choice" to a process of weighing the pros and cons of such a question and coming to a conclusion, ultimately the conclusion one DOES reach is just a matter of things clicking into place, and once they do, even if you try to force them back out of your mind, they will always be there.

In Old Church Guy's case, I would guess that such is a little bit of the case. It's why he is unable to categorically state that there is a god the way many other theists might. He's honest with himself. He also finds comfort in the concept of god, though, so he allows for the possibility, then juggles with definitions enough to be able to maintain his belief, even though he has to reject much standard dogma to make it "fit".

Sorry, by the way, OCG...that's just speculation, and may be wrong, but even if your own process may differ, there are still many people out there to whom that sort of definition would apply, and it's really the root of SPAG, though, I personally wouldn't apply that epithet with quite the same attitude to someone who is honest enough with themselves to realize what they are doing as opposed to one who builds up an unshakeable image of exactly what god thinks on this matter based on their own mindsets and then cling to it, insisting it is the truth.

No offense taken.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #45 on: May 29, 2014, 08:01:50 AM »
I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.

I don't understand what you mean. You said you didn't feel those things I mentioned. How would those feelings "well up inside [you]"?

But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?

Yes, you can choose how you react to most feelings. Some feelings, though, are too great to be able to do that.


I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

The answer is "no". Because psychopaths, by definition, cannot feel (they are physically incapable of feeling) empathy.

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sexuality is not fully genetic, but it is never a choice. When did you choose to be attracted to women? I know I didn't choose it. It just happened. I didn't choose to be attracted to men either. It too, just happened.
Anyway, as far as scientists can figure out, sexuality is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some of which go all the way back to the womb.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna be late,

One
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline junebug72

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #46 on: May 29, 2014, 08:17:52 AM »

P.S.  Thank you Junebug for helping clarify this discussion.  I feel like I am treading water so would appreciate insights from anyone else on this exchange.

You're welcome.  I don't think I did much.

I think the passion is about what other theists say about choosing to not believe in God.  Probably something out of the bible.  I wish I had a better memory but some theist here try to say atheist really believe in God but chose not to.  It's offensive to the atheist. 

I think One's frustration with you is similar to mine.  You just shrug explanation off with I'm not forcing my beliefs on you so I don't have anything to prove.  I think you're a real nice guy but it's okay to engage sometimes.  I really get frustrated when you say you don't care if you are delusional.  I care if I'm delusional.   

It's like you are afraid.  With God on your side why should you fear? 

I hope I didn't add insult to injury.

One I'm sorry if I am wrong.  I shouldn't speak for you.


Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Thomas Paine

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #47 on: May 29, 2014, 08:54:37 AM »
I think I understand what you are getting at.  If I understand you correctly, you are saying I cannot choose a given feeling that wells up inside me.

I don't understand what you mean. You said you didn't feel those things I mentioned. How would those feelings "well up inside [you]"?

But I CAN choose how I react to that feeling.  Correct?

Yes, you can choose how you react to most feelings. Some feelings, though, are too great to be able to do that.


I don't believe they can other than to give the appearance of empathy.  But I am not an authority on psychopaths.

The answer is "no". Because psychopaths, by definition, cannot feel (they are physically incapable of feeling) empathy.

I think that is possible for some.  At this point in my life, I have gone from "pro-choice" regarding homosexuality to "pro-gene" for the vast majority of homosexuals. I don't think there is enough evidence to conclude that ALL homosexual attraction is choice or that ALL homosexual attraction is genetic.

Sexuality is not fully genetic, but it is never a choice. When did you choose to be attracted to women? I know I didn't choose it. It just happened. I didn't choose to be attracted to men either. It too, just happened.
Anyway, as far as scientists can figure out, sexuality is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some of which go all the way back to the womb.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Probably gonna be late,

One

We seem to be on different planes and I trying to rise up to yours.  Would you give me an example of a feeling that is so great I cannot choose how I want to react to it?  Has this happened to you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #48 on: May 29, 2014, 09:53:09 AM »
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Belief is a feeling, granted.  But it can come about through different causes.  One of these is through what we experience as knowledge.

Back to my example:  You know your family exists.[1]  So long as you know that your family exists, belief in their existence will naturally come from that knowledge.  We may be in denial of what we know, but denial is unstable.

Choosing to disbelieve in their existence may be possible - for a little while.  But that belief will be unstable, because you still know they exist.  To genuinely change the set of beliefs you hold on more than just the surface[2], you would have to un-know that your family exists.

How would you go about choosing to do that, OCG?  Care to give it a try - not just to feel that they don't exist, but to know it, and thus believe it afterward as a matter of course?
 1. Whether your knowledge is accurate or not, from your perspective, it's still knowledge.
 2. ie., as more than just a temporary feeling
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 09:55:59 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #49 on: May 29, 2014, 10:51:46 AM »
I think the key to this exchange is a definition of terms.  The key word for defining appears to be "belief".

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary online "belief" is:

- a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true;

- a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable;

- a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

Please note that all 3 definitions have the word "feeling" in common. 

Belief is not the same as knowing something as an irrefutable fact.  Thus, I can believe my family no longer exists but that does not mean my family does not exist due to outside proof to the contrary.   

I believe God exists (alternately 'I feel God exists") based on my interpretation of various experiences in my life.  I cannot prove this but, as stated earlier, I see no reason to prove it since I am not trying to convince anyone my belief is correct and all contrary beliefs are to be ignored.   

Going back to an earlier posting, frankly, I am happy as a theist and, since I try not to present my theism as irrefutable fact, why does my theism seem to bother you?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Belief is a feeling, granted.  But it can come about through different causes.  One of these is through what we experience as knowledge.

Back to my example:  You know your family exists.[1]  So long as you know that your family exists, belief in their existence will naturally come from that knowledge.  We may be in denial of what we know, but denial is unstable.

Choosing to disbelieve in their existence may be possible - for a little while.  But that belief will be unstable, because you still know they exist.  To genuinely change the set of beliefs you hold on more than just the surface[2], you would have to un-know that your family exists.

How would you go about choosing to do that, OCG?  Care to give it a try - not just to feel that they don't exist, but to know it, and thus believe it afterward as a matter of course?
 1. Whether your knowledge is accurate or not, from your perspective, it's still knowledge.
 2. ie., as more than just a temporary feeling

The only way I can see of deciding my family no longer exists is due to a severe brain trauma wiping out all memory of them or some affliction like Alzheimer's. 

Apparently, you are reading something much deeper into this than I am.  Care to enlighten me as to why the above questions are important and what kind of reaction you are anticipating or expecting?

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline Azdgari

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #50 on: May 29, 2014, 11:13:01 AM »
The only way I can see of deciding my family no longer exists is due to a severe brain trauma wiping out all memory of them or some affliction like Alzheimer's.

So it's not a matter of choice, to ignore what you know?

Apparently, you are reading something much deeper into this than I am.  Care to enlighten me as to why the above questions are important and what kind of reaction you are anticipating or expecting?

As always,

OldChurchGuy

For me at least, atheism is an informed position.  Right or wrong, from my perspective it is experienced as something based on knowledge.  I cannot change that knowledge.  I may deny it, and believe otherwise for a time - but without changing that knowledge, the change in belief is superficial and unstable.

My point is that choosing to believe differently is trivial and meaningless without knowing differently.  It's just an act of denial.  Were I to choose to believe in some sort of god, I would just be in denial of what I know.

Let's take belief in the god of the creationists, for example.  I am a geologist.  I know that the Earth is more than 6k years old - it's the only position that makes sense to me.  I am not free to choose to know otherwise - I would have to be convinced otherwise in order for my state of knowledge to change.  Being able to be convinced of a new belief (changing one's state of knowledge, and being able to choose a new belief (with one's state of knowledge being the same) are categorically different.

When people (atheists, in this case) say that belief is not a choice, they are referring to the former case.  One cannot simply choose to be honestly convinced of a new belief.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 11:20:26 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline YRM_DM

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #51 on: May 29, 2014, 01:00:06 PM »
Quote
As shared elsewhere on this website, I've had experiences in my life which I choose to chalk up to evidence of God's existence. 

This particular website is quite willing to accept my interpretations if I can provide some proof.  Unfortunately, there is no chant, incantation, prayer or string of sounds which will consistently produce an entity which can be seen and measured and identified as God. 

So, since I believe in God's existence but am not able to provide an empirical evidence of this belief I see myself as faced with the choice of remaining a theist or becoming an atheist.  I've tried atheism in the past and always felt "empty" even when trying it for about a month. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy 

OCG, I read every response to my post, point by point.   The way you carry your faith is probably the best and least offensive way that any person can carry their faith.  Your thoughtful replies are appreciated.

I too, had experiences in my life that I believed were signs from God, but, I've since learned that we can assign holy value to random events that seem to answer prayer.   For example, if you took a test to see if you had cancer, prayed, and ended up not having cancer, a person could think that they had cancer, but their prayer to God caused him to cure it.

I noticed that when I was a Christian, "god talking to me" was just feelings.   Like, if I know I can scam someone but choose not to, the thought that values the other person was "god talking".   That stuff still happens, because my brain knows it's bad to hurt other people.

(since we each just get the one life, it's best for all of us to value each other's lives and set that example out there)

The way you have faith doesn't bother me so much, but you were nice enough to have this discussion.

It sounds like you don't put a lot of weight on the Bible's description of God.

I agree with you that there 'might' be some kind of God.  The difference is that I don't think it's overly likely, and, if there is, he's probably nothing like the thing described in the Old Testament.

We agree that slavery, forcing virgins into marriage, animal sacrifice, and throwing babies off walls is bad, so clearly we agree that parts of the Old Testament are not perfect words from god, but at least a faulty interpretation from men right?   It sounds like you agree with that statement from what you wrote?

Thanks for the discussion.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline YRM_DM

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #52 on: May 29, 2014, 01:11:03 PM »
Quote
Were I to choose to believe in some sort of god, I would just be in denial of what I know.

That's true.  Once you start to realize all the ways that Christianity is built as a house of cards, and most of the cards are lies... like, if the Old Testament is blatantly full of errors, then how do we know we needed Jesus to show up and save us from his dad who created the place that he created Jesus to save us from?

There are thousands of ways to poke holes in the Bible, and the justifications for the Bible sound a lot like psychics rationalizing their powers.   (I can't explain it but...  this would have worked but you didn't believe in it enough...  your doubt is causing the prayers not to work...)

The Bible and Churches spend all this time and energy talking about how they are the TRUTH.  (way truth light)  (word of god)  (gods word is truth)   

While nothing may be 100% provably true (we could be living inside a computer simulation), let's say that things like "the earth is round and orbits the sun" are as true as we can verify.

Almost nobody doubts that the earth is round and goes around the sun these days... because it's true and has been proven and verified.

You can't easily choose to believe that the earth is still flat.   You can't easily still believe in Santa Clause.

Just like that, I can't switch back on a belief in god because I've come to see ancient religious texts as pretty unbelievable.   Everything in them is unlikely and contradictory while they are advertised as "the truth" to the point where it's too much of a protest.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #53 on: May 29, 2014, 03:33:15 PM »
We seem to be on different planes and I trying to rise up to yours.

I don't know if you're trying to kiss ass or whatever, but please try to find another way to phrase that.

Would you give me an example of a feeling that is so great I cannot choose how I want to react to it?

Love. Lust. Hunger (the kind where you've been starving for days). Hate (I define hate as the desire to murder something/someone). Grief. Depression.

Has this happened to you?

It has. I once broke my second highest law when my ex-BF broke up with me. It wasn't intentional; it just didn't occur to me until after I did it. It won't happen again. That's the most recent example I can give you (about two and a half years old), and probably the only one I feel comfortable giving.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Finally back,

One
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline One Above All

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #54 on: May 29, 2014, 05:21:29 PM »
I think One's frustration with you is similar to mine.  You just shrug explanation off with I'm not forcing my beliefs on you so I don't have anything to prove.

You're wrong. My frustration is that he's an idiot.

One I'm sorry if I am wrong.  I shouldn't speak for you.

As long as you don't do it again, it's OK.

Tell me, OldChurchGuy, why would someone CHOOSE to be persecuted? Why would someone CHOOSE to be murdered in some of the most horrific ways humans have devised (drowning, stoning, burning, hacking, and so on)? Why would someone CHOOSE to be seen as inferior? Why would someone CHOOSE to be regarded as inhuman? Why would someone CHOOSE to be bullied? Why would someone CHOOSE to be part of a group that can't express their love for their partners in public? Why would someone CHOOSE to be part of a group where, even in private, they might not be able to express their love for each other?

The only possible answer I see for this is "they're insane", or "they're suicidal". The latter is, unfortunately, true for some, but not because of their choices. It's because of bigots who make their lives hell. The former is just plain stupid, unless you want to claim that ~10% of all humans on Earth are insane, in which case I might feel a compulsion to do some bad things to you.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Jag

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #55 on: May 29, 2014, 05:24:34 PM »
Rather than quoting the posts junebug and OCG, I'm just going to go a little further with my original post thoughts.

First, I'm very pleased that this conversation is remaining civil. This is a challenging topic, and it can also be a very sensitive one, as junebug pointed out. I'm happy everyone is trying but I'm saddened by the depth of the division that exists, even when everyone is actually making an effort to understand the "other side".

Next, I want to pre-emptively defend myself a bit. This can be really hard to explain without saying things that can be interpreted as insulting by the theists in the conversation. The easiest comparisons (choose to believe in leprechauns, or fairies, or Santa Claus) sort of imply that theists are simple-minded or childish, and that's unproductive at best. I'm trying to avoid treating either of you like that, so please remember that as you read. I'm not trying to be rude, but we lack a "common ground" for this conversation.

There was no point in my life that I "made a choice" to "become" an atheist. Not believing in a god put me at odds with literally everything and everyone I knew. Recall the days before the internet - I had no one to talk to about any of this, for years. In fact, I knew that I didn't believe in the Christian god in high school, and by my early 30's, on some level I knew I didn't believe in any gods whatsoever. I've always allowed for the possibility of a deist-type creator, but to be perfectly frank, that's leftover from smoking a lot of pot and talking about god/life/purpose/angst-laden-whatever with my friends in my teens and 20's.

It didn't occur to me that the word atheist even applied to me. Although I didn't know the term, I was an apathist - didn't know, didn't care, didn't see it as mattering enough to me to bother with it. I had reached the conclusion that I didn't think there was a god and that was the end of it.

At least, that's how I presented the idea, even to myself. Reality was a bit different. It scared the sh!t out of me to realize that I didn't actually BELIEVE any of it. It scared the sh!t out of me to think about that, it scared me so much I just refused to do it at all. For several years, by the way.

Here's a detail I rarely share: I had to give up marijuana because if I got high, I would start to think about the consequences of there being no god. I started having panic attacks when I smoked pot and they were absolutely triggered by my lack of belief.

Brace yourselves for the next part, because this is seriously warped thinking in action: I was absolutely certain that I was going to go to hell and burn for all eternity because I couldn't make myself believe in god. That conviction lingered for years.

Go ahead and take a moment to let the echoes of crazy fade a bit.....

I blame THAT directly on Catholicism (yes junebug, organized religion is f*cking evil, I agree with you).

Now, in light of that, do you see why I insist that my lack of belief is not a choice? If ever I could have chosen to believe, that was the time. Coming to terms with my lack of belief has been the greatest gift I could have given myself, my mental health is quite a bit improved since I've made my peace with being an atheist

I say this often here - the bible had nothing to do with my loss of faith, but it had little to do with my faith when I had it either. I was raised Catholic, and while Catholics generally have a bible or 12 in their homes, we aren't known for our detailed bible knowledge - that's what priests are for. I believed in God because everyone in my life believed in God. I asked a LOT of questions, but concluded pretty young that people had messed up an otherwise fine thing. It wasn't until adulthood that it even occurred to me to question the premise - that a god existed in the first place. I didn't do detailed research, I didn't read the bible to try and make sense of it all, I just took a good hard look at my own beliefs and saw a big gaping hole where everyone else seemed to have a god shaped plug.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 05:26:49 PM by Jag »
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Offline junebug72

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #56 on: May 30, 2014, 04:07:13 AM »
Okay now I understand. 

I implore your courage to dance to the beat of your own drum.   

Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Thomas Paine

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/thomas_paine.html#XXwlhVIMq06zWg2d.99

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: My five topics for Christian believers
« Reply #57 on: May 30, 2014, 07:42:07 AM »
We seem to be on different planes and I trying to rise up to yours.

I don't know if you're trying to kiss ass or whatever, but please try to find another way to phrase that.

Would you give me an example of a feeling that is so great I cannot choose how I want to react to it?

Love. Lust. Hunger (the kind where you've been starving for days). Hate (I define hate as the desire to murder something/someone). Grief. Depression.

Has this happened to you?

It has. I once broke my second highest law when my ex-BF broke up with me. It wasn't intentional; it just didn't occur to me until after I did it. It won't happen again. That's the most recent example I can give you (about two and a half years old), and probably the only one I feel comfortable giving.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

Finally back,

One

Let's try this: We seem to have different depths of understanding and I am trying to get as deep as your understanding.  Is that better?

I have experienced love and lust and grief.  The greatest grief which come to mind was when I learned of my father dying from a heart attack.  I cried a great deal that night. 

I am saddened about your break up with your ex BF.  Terminating any relationship is hard.  Am I out of line to ask what is your second highest law?  What is your first highest law?  Are there other laws? 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama